Interviews and reviews
Jumping Off Bridges
D: Kat Candler; with Bryan Chafin, Glen Powell Jr., Savannah Welch, Katie Lemon, Michael Emerson, Anne Nabors, Rhett Wilkins
Austin filmmaker Kat Candler is one of the most astute observers of teenage behavior working behind a camera today, and jumping off bridges, her powerful, resonant examination into the impact of suicide on those left behind is as realistic a narrative portrait of love, death, and human debris as anything you're ever likely to see onscreen. An unnervingly quiet, calm, and contemplative dive into the darkest riptides of life, Candler's film is buoyed by a quartet of young actors headed by a devastating, near-wholly internalized performance from Bryan Chafin. As Zak, the guilt-hobbled young survivor of both a sibling's random death and a parent's suicide, he single-handedly erases decades of poorly realized cinematic teens from memory while managing some of the most cacophonous silences since those half-dozen heartbeats following Plato's fall at Griffith Observatory. Equally heartwrenching is Michael Emerson as Zak's father, an emotionally battered parent whose unsure, unsteady gaze sweeps over his riven brood like a lighthouse beacon casting out hope atop the foamy black breakers of self-destruction. What's most impressive about Candler's film is how she maintains that tenuous, fragile strand of hope in the face of what should be its utter absence. The film's underlying pulse of friendship and familial unity salvaging shattered hearts from oblivion is a truth eloquently made plain here. jumping off bridges whispers it out of the dark and shouts into the light while slicing downward into the cool, still waters of youth only to emerge, shivering and unsure, alive after all.